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VIRTUAL EVENT – Energy in Society: Myth of Utopia with Richard Norris

30 July 2020
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Event type:
Lecture, Virtual event
Organised by:
Geological Society Events
Virtual event
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The energy transition dominates headlines, existing at the intersection of climate change and economics. COVID-19 has reduced economic activity on national and global scales, and consequently has reduced our energy footprint. Clear air and a slower pace are certainly welcome, but the drop in pollution is occurring alongside failing businesses and mass unemployment.

We take energy for granted – so much so that, in most people’s eyes, we can simply swap out fossil fuels for renewables. Not only will this solve climate change, but it will provide cheaper energy and, in some cases, millions of sustainable and well-paid jobs.

However, this utopian vision leads to ideological choices which will have generational impacts. The reality is that the energy transition is going to be vastly more complex, slower and (in all probability) much more expensive than mainstream reporting would lead one to believe.

It is necessary to face up to the awkward facts and understand the trade-offs that we must address. Not only because there is a social contract to the transition due to climate change, but because the era of cheap hydrocarbons is rapidly drawing to a close.

In a world that is still 85% powered by fossil fuels (as it was 30 years ago also), increases in the cost of primary energy will affect the cost of everything, including the build-out of renewable power. 

Higher energy costs may make everyone poorer, slow or halt growth, and potentially cause social unrest. Ensuring an energy transition that is successful and equitable will be far more complex than just "turning off" oil and gas.


Dr Richard Norris, Managing Director of Pandreco Energy Advisors

Richard Norris has over 30 years of oil and gas experience, split between industry and finance. He is currently Managing Director of Pandreco Energy Advisors, whose clients include IOCs, banks, asset managers and policy centres. He writes and presents extensively on the relationships between energy, economics and society, and is a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He holds an MSc in Petroleum Geology and a PhD in Petroleum Engineering, both from Imperial College London.



Please contact [email protected] with any enquiries.